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Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said it was a part of the $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Package aimed at securing jobs and boosting businesses following the fallout from Covid-19.
It was announced today that AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand will receive a grant of $5.1 million in the first year and a loan of $5.1 million in the second year, through the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, if it was required.
“By supporting AJ Hackett Bungy, we’re protecting a world-famous tourism asset as well as the flow-on benefits that an iconic tourism attraction brings to a local community,” Mr Davis said.
“AJ Hackett Bungy has been giving thrill-seekers exhilarating experiences for more than 30 years. With our borders closed to protect us from Covid-19, the downturn in visitor numbers is felt far and wide, not only by the operator but also by other local businesses who cater to visitors through accommodation, hospitality and retail.
“We’re committed to the tourism industry’s recovery, which is why our $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Package is so important,” Mr Davis said.
AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder and managing director Henry van Asch said the grant could not have come at a better time for the Queenstown business.
“Even after considerably resizing our business across New Zealand we are still facing significant losses through to whenever the tourism market rebounds. This grant enables us to keep the specialist skills we need - in particular the jump masters - to continue to offer our experiences. And allows us to be ready to scale up again when international visitors return.
“Our specialist Jumpmasters, who require two or four years of rigorous training to develop the skills they need to coach people to jump off a bridge, are crucial to our operation’s ongoing sustainability. If we can keep them working and using their specialist skills we’ll be in a much better position longer term.”
The company was recognised globally as an adventure tourism icon which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Zealand every year - and the funding reflected that, Mr van Asch said.
The Government’s offer of an additional $5.1m loan in a year’s time will ideally, not be needed, he said.
AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand opened the world’s first commercial bungy operation at the Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown in November 1988. It now offers 13 exhilarating experiences across six sites in Queenstown, Auckland and Taupō.
The Strategic Tourism Assets Protections Programme is designed to protect assets in the tourism sector that are nationally or regionally vital to New Zealand’s tourism offerings, are culturally and historically important, and have significant spill over benefits to the region where it is located.
To be considered strategically important, assets must be:
- Nationally and/or internationally recognised
- Be a key attraction for New Zealand or a region of New Zealand,
- Responsible for significant visitation to the region where it is located and, in its absence, visitation to the region would be significantly diminished, and
- Generate significant spill over benefits to the region where it is located.